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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Update - Holiday furlough cancelled

Article published September 05, 2009
University of Toledo calls off furlough plan over holidays
Jacobs cites enrollment; faculty note bonus fury

By MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

After making plans to shut down the university around the holidays, the University of Toledo now says it will not require unpaid furlough days of its employees this year.

The reversal occurs after a public outcry over what some call excessive administrative bonuses, but UT President Lloyd Jacobs said the change is because enrollment is higher than expected.

UT had anticipated having more students than the 22,336 counted last fall, but apparently not as many as the 23,000 who Dr. Jacobs said are actually on campus now.

Official enrollment numbers will be released Tuesday.

“It is connected overall to our budgetary circumstance because the more students we have, the better we are,” Dr. Jacobs said.

“They make us better not only because they bring new ideas and fresh minds, but they also improve our budgetary situation,” he said.

UT receives about $5,000 in state funding per full-time undergraduate student.

Dr. Jacobs announced the cancellation of the fall furlough plan during a taping Friday of the “A Presidential Perspective” video posted weekly on UT’s Web site.

The furloughs were planned to save UT $1.3 million and address part of an $8 million shortfall caused by reductions in state funding.

While UT will not need the furloughs during the holidays, it’s likely that furloughs will be needed in the future and university officials will continue planning efforts on the best way to implement them, Dr. Jacobs said.

The furlough program was nixed rather than the planned program cuts or tuition increase in the spring because furloughs are a one-time cost savings, Dr. Jacobs said.

He said he was “pleased” and “delighted” to be able to postpone the furloughs.

But faculty members do not believe the reversal was solely based on a larger-than-expected student body.

“It’s hard to believe that all the attention to the bonuses hasn’t created this,” said Terry Cluse-Tolar, an associate professor of social work and chairman of the department.

While the form of the furlough idea has changed several times during the budget discussions, scrapping it altogether now is “curious timing,” she said.

A recent newsletter from the faculty union, the UT American Association of University Professors, drew attention to the extra compensation of administrators while UT instituted layoffs and announced furloughs of its employees.

A review by The Blade revealed the university paid out nearly $570,000 in administrative bonuses last school year and $1.5 million during the last four years.

Dr. Jacobs has defended the bonuses, saying they are part of the total compensation of the administrators, which is based on market value adjusted for performance.

Using the longevity and performance bonus method rather than incorporating the payments into their salaries promotes continuity and encourages good performance, he said.

A lengthy letter to Dr. Jacobs from Lawrence Anderson-Huang, a professor of physics and astronomy at UT, which questions the sense of the furlough plan and bonuses for doing their jobs, has been widely circulated around campus.

He said he was upset about the situation and the administration again making sweeping changes at the spur of the moment.

“You seem like fish flopping out of the water. These things keep happening over and over without respite,” he wrote.

But given that practice, it’s not a total shock that the furlough program is now being revisited, Mr. Anderson-Huang said.

“I kind of got the idea from the way things were treated that our administration has the same view of faculty that the general public does, that the only work we do is when we are in the classroom and that is certainly far from the truth,” he said.

Mr. Anderson-Huang and other faculty members have said they are glad the administrative pay and bonuses have received attention. If administrators need bonuses to stay, they are more committed to the money than UT, he said.

“In these times, those types of awards are a little outlandish,” Mr. Anderson-Huang said.

http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090905/NEWS16/909059998

1 comment:

Concerned said...

I will state the obvious. There was never any need for furloughs but the UT junta wanted to this difficult time as an opportunity to squeeze money from the working people at UT in order to gamble the money on their visionary pet projects and of course to keep their other bonuses and perks intact.